I’m one of those weirdos that has never liked licorice. Black or Red. Groan. No… it goes beyond that. It makes me nauseous… unhappy and desirous of fleeing. Go figure. So it wasn’t until well into my adulthood that a love affair with the fennel bulb began. Before I discovered this root vegetable, I assumed fennel arose from the same family as anise, which is the base flavoring of licorice (or, at least, it’s supposed to be but today’s chemical candy is anyone’s guess). It’s certainly related to anise but fennel bulb is the milder-flavored underground portion of an herb, which, coincidentally, is the basis for the controversial grog Absinthe.
I’ve already posted a main dish using this root veggie, Spicy Shrimp with Sauteed Fennel, but this super-fast side can give you all the mild, delicious flavor without the hassle of cooking. I re-created this salad recipe after enjoying it at a Tampa restaurant and now it’s a staple in my salad arsenal.
Fennel Salad with Mustard Dressing
2 Tablespoons whole grain Dijon mustard
2 1/2 teaspoons rice or white wine vinegar
1 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon salt or to taste
1/8 teaspoon black pepper (3 or so grinds of a pepper mill)
One large fennel bulb, sliced very thinly, almost shaved (about 2 cups)
1. Combine first five ingredients in a medium-sized bowl (through pepper). Stir with a whisk until combined and smooth.
2. Add sliced fennel and toss to coat.
It’s even good the day after, if you have any leftovers.